• Barnett Waddingham
    Barnett Waddingham
  • 5 minutes with… Mandy Jennings, Venues of Excellence

    Mandy Jennings, Executive Director at Venues of Excellence, discusses the challenges and opportunities in the learning & development sector, voice recognition and rhubarb & ginger gin…

    Tell us about your company, products, and services.
    Venues of Excellence is the leading collection of venues delivering excellence in conferences, training, and events. We have over 40 venue members, which include many of the country’s best-known venues, cover a geographical area extending from the South East of England, to Scotland. Working with our members, who are mostly independent providers, we support the concept that specialist venues are the optimum solution for conferences, training, and events, offering completely focused support and a distraction-free environment. Before joining, venues need to meet stringent quality criteria in terms of facilities, accommodation, and customer care. There is also ongoing quality assurance, administered independently, ensuring customers have a guarantee of the highest quality standards when choosing Venues of Excellence.

    What have been the biggest challenges the learning & development industry has faced over the past 12 months?
    Many organisations are struggling to know how to adapt beyond traditional learning methods and being reluctant to commit financial resources to L&D spending without tangible return on investment. Also recouping investment when people move on to other businesses.

    And what have been the biggest opportunities?
    For training venues, the opportunity to work in partnership with companies to provide bespoke training and the right environment for this – Venues of Excellence offers some of the best training facilities in the UK.

    What is the biggest priority for the learning & development industry in 2018?
    To keep up with new learning methods to ensure the delegates are learning in an environment that is conducive for their individual requirements.

    What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2018?
    Consolidation of training spend and for venues offering value for money and inclusive rates so there are no additional costs. Increased demands for technology – people want training venues to offer more technology than they have at home.

    What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?
    Voice recognition products such as Alexa being used in venues and for learning and development

    In 2020 we’ll all be talking about…?
    We hope that even though we have all this great technology we still need to meet in person to really understand their objectives and learn from each other!

    Which person in, or associated with, the learning & development industry would you most like to meet?
    Well going back a few hundred years, I think Dale Carnegie would have been the one… his wise words are still being used by many and I do love a good quote! “Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get”.

    What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the learning & development sector?
    From a venue perspective we love to deal directly with the L&D contacts as they truly understand how important all the value we offer to our clients and that we spend a great deal of time to ensure we are developing great venues, products, services, and technology to match their needs.
    You go to the bar at the Training & Development Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?
    Well of course G&T! currently Rhubarb and Ginger gin is the frontrunner served in a beautiful glass… all about the presentation!

    What’s the most exciting thing about your job?
    Meeting so many people and seeing so many amazing venues… every day is very different, and I am always surprised and delighted! … the perfect job for me!

    And what’s the most challenging?
    Never a challenge… just fabulous opportunities

    What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
    Find out what you like doing best and get someone to pay you for doing it.


    Stuart O'Brien

    All stories by: Stuart O'Brien

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